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Eight-fold increase in the number of illegal migrants entering Europe

Official border agency figures record spike in number of illegal border crossings

There number of illegal migrants entering Europe has surged in the past year, according to the European Union border agency.

Figures from Warsaw-based Frontex show that 42,000 migrants were detected entering the EU from January to April – up on the equivalent period in 2011, the year of the Arab Spring which saw the arrival of 140,000 migrants.

The figures are more than eight times the number of arrivals in the same period last year,

The number of people attempting the treacherous sea crossing from Libya to Italy has also risen to 25,650, the findings show.

And according to the deputy-head of the border agency, there are large numbers of Syrian and Eritrean refugees waiting to enter the EU in Libya.

Gil Arias Fernandez, Frontex's Deputy Executive Director, told the BBC: "If the current trends continue, and with the summer months approaching, there is a strong likelihood the numbers will increase further”.

He added that the number is likely to increase as summer weather makes the dangerous sea crossing easier.

According to the figures, at least a third of arrivals are Syrians, fleeing that country's civil war. Significant numbers of others are arriving from Afghanistan and Eritea.

The cost of patrolling the Mediterranean Sea has risen to £24,200 a day since the October launch of the ‘Mare Nostrum’ (‘Our Sea’) operation.